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AnotherVincent

Online food/supplement ordering

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[Note: Per Brian's request, I've split the first two posts of this thread off from the pea protein thread and started a new discussion here about on-line ordering. - Dean]

 

Thanks all for the welcome!

 

Brian :

 

Ordering online seems more advantageous but I'm quite the neophyte there, having only ever ordered a few items from ebay (which doesn't propose a lot of supplements and no food items I think). I don't know for sure where I could find such products (also, I live in continental Europe, so I assume some online orders would be unavailable or charge extra for sending the stuff?). Finally, I'm not entirely sure either what criterion of quality / reliability I should be looking for (though I guess people in here would have a good idea).

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Vincent, I live in Sweden most of the year, so I'm in the same boat. Sweden is strict with import duties, which is an additional problem. (Diff. European countries have wildly different levels of strictness -- one UK CR Society member ordered 10 L (a "cube") of olive oil from the US and it slid right through customs; I did the same and was slapped with a huge tax.)

 

My approach is: buy massive quantities of expensive, low-weight supplements (for suitcase, which is always near the weight limit), and some small, high-weight supplements and food items (for coat pockets, and carry-on (which I hope they don't weigh)) when in the U.S. Then, when in Sweden, order supplements from iHerb, which usually has the best shipping rates to Europe, and keep the order under 40-50 USD, which is an amount that (I know by experience) won't trigger customs to slap an import duty on me.

 

Ordering food is trickier. Swedes are sheep when it comes to food-quality awareness (well, so are Americans, on average, but there's significant subset of the population that is extremely food quality–aware). You may simply need to experiment with food options -- also with supplements, to see what the customs people in your country do.

 

Spending more than a few minutes writing this, and thinking about how much time I spend weighing various suitcases, making lists of needed supplements, etc.... it suddenly occurs to me I should just take on a small extra freelance job every now and then and use the money earned to order from the US (in most cases) everything I need while I'm in Sweden, and not worry about the few(-ish) dollars I could save with a different approach!!

 

- Brian

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All,

 

I used to order all kinds of things (including foods & supplements) from a host of different websites. Now I purchase just about everything online from Amazon, which the exception of nuts, which I get from Nuts.com. Amazon has an amazing variety of items, including most non-perishable foods (e.g. teas) & supplements, not to mention just about any durable good you could ever think of (oh yeah - and books too).

 

Amazon Prime is well worth the cost ($99 in the US) for the free 2-day shipping alone if you order a lot like me and live in one of the eligible countries - US, Canada, France, Germany, UK, Italy, Spain, & Japan. You can even share your Amazon Prime membership with other people in your "household" (loosely defined, different shipping addresses allowed), if you trust each other with your credit cards...

 

Here is a good website describing all the other benefits of Amazon Prime besides free shipping.  Amazon Prime makes it trivial and cost-effective to buy even mundane items like batteries and light bulbs, rather than trekking to a brick-and-mortar store. Not every item Amazon sells is eligible for Amazon Prime shipping, but the latest number I've seen is it is available for 20 million items. Between Prime free two-day shipping and free (slower) shipping on other items not eligible for Prime, I can't recall the last time I paid for shipping when purchasing from Amazon. For a cheap curmudgeon like me, that is a big draw!

 

I used to feel badly about the environmental impact of all those UPS deliveries, and all the extra cardboard boxes. But I religiously recycles the boxes, and in the last year or so Amazon has switched from UPS so that now most of Amazon's deliveries (at least in my area) are handled by the US Post Office, during their regular daily visit to my home, and they even come on Sundays now if I've got a 2-day package to be delivered!

 

I've read several studies, including one from my alma mater Carnegie Mellon University, that have found ordering online is more environmentally friendly than driving to the store (35% more friendly in the CMU study). Another study found you'd have to buy 24 items on a trip to the store in order to match the per item carbon footprint of ordering one item online. I find that one a bit hard to believe, but with my mail-person delivering my packages, I definitely think the footprint is lower ordering on-line. And it is SO much more convenient.

 

For really heavy Amazon purchasers, I highly recommend the Amazon Prime Store Card. Its a credit card that only works for Amazon purchase, but saves you 5% off every order - which adds up when you buy hundreds or thousands of dollars worth of stuff per year. On top of the already-low Amazon prices and free shipping via Prime, it is really a slam dunk to buy from Amazon for just about anything they carry.

 

The coolest thing is the Amazon Android (or iPhone I presume) app. With it, when I run out of something (e.g. like a supplement), I just scan the barcode on the bottle, or even just take a picture of the label, and it automatically brings me to the corresponding product page, even telling me when I last purchased the item. I can then buy it with one click, and it shows up on my doorstep 2 days later. Easy peasy.

 

You can try Amazon Prime for 30 days for free at this link.

 

--Dean

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Dean, thanks for the useful info. I just checked the prices on five things I was about to buy from iHerb or Vitacost, and they were all cheaper (in a couple cases only a bit, but still) at Amazon. But there are lots of different types of discounts available at both iHerb and Vitacost, so it's hard to compare.

 

Still, the ease of buying nearly everything from one place is appealing. And since shipping -- fast shipping, no less -- is free, I wouldn't have to spend so much time thinking about consolidating orders. Am about to run out of just one thing? No problem! Order it, and not worry about not reaching the minimum order size for free shipping at Vitacost (or for a discount at iHerb). If I lived in the US more than a couple months out of the year I would definitely join Amazon Prime, and probably get the Amazon Prime Store Card. I may join anyway.

 

- Brian

 

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Dean, quick ?:

Can you take a look at the expiration dates of a couple supplements you've recently bought on Amazon and compare them to the "promised" expiration dates of the same at iHerb? My one concern about getting supplements at Amazon instead of at a dedicated online supplement retailer like iHerb is that the supplements at Amazon might not have a very quick turnover (but I have no idea).

For example, Jarrow's taurine at iHerb says "Expiration Date: Jun 2018".

Thanks.

-Brian

 

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Dean, quick ?:

Can you take a look at the expiration dates of a couple supplements you've recently bought on Amazon and compare them to the "promised" expiration dates of the same at iHerb

 

The only recent Amazon supplement purchase I made that both has a printed expiration date on the bottle and is carried by iHerb is LEF-brand European Milk Thistle (EMT), which I started taking as a result of my odd elevated liver enzyme blood test results discussed elsewhere. I last purchased EMT from Amazon at the end of July. The bottle in my possession has a printed expiration date of 04/2017. The same LEF-brand EMT as currently listed at iHerb is $7 more expensive than Amazon, and has an expiration of 02/2017 - two months sooner  than the EMT I bought from Amazon three months ago.

 

So at least from this single datapoint, it doesn't look like slow supplement turnover at Amazon is likely to be a consistent problem relative to iHerb, despite the fact that iHerb only sells supplements so you'd think turnover would be more rapid. Of course there are many sellers at Amazon, and it will likely vary by supplement, since their turnover rate (and perishability) will obviously vary.

 

I must admit I don't normally check seller ratings when purchasing from Amazon. But I just did on this one. The EMT I purchased was from a seller called "ASF Tashi" which appears from its storefront to be a distributor of mostly LEF products. It has an average customer rating of 5-stars from over 1000+ reviews in the last 12 months. So it looks like a very reputable seller, with an apparently high turnover of LEF products. So perhaps I just got lucky with the datapoint.

 

But this example highlights the fact that, unlike iHerb, Amazon gives customers like us the ability to check a seller's rating, both on the specific product we are considering and on all of the sellers transactions in the last 12 months.

 

--Dean

 

 

--Dean

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Thanks, Dean. I just checked more supplements: every single one (total so far checked: around 10) was 2-~15% cheaper at Amazon. But that doesn't include iHerb's discount, which is substantial for a "VIP" customer like me.

 

If I lived in the US more than a few months a year, I would definitely sign up for Prime, and get the Amazon Prime Store Card, as well.

 

- Brian

 

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